Archive for the ‘pro bono’ Tag

From ALDF: Tony, the Truck Stop Tiger 11.29.2012   Leave a comment

tony 01The Truck Stops Here…

From the stench of fuel to the drone of diesel engines and the isolation of his roadside prison, Tony, a 12 year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, has endured more than a decade of misery at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. That is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has taken to the Louisiana courts to free Tony the Tiger from this truck stop nightmare. We won our lawsuit to prevent Tony’s “owner” Michael Sandlin from renewing his permit, but Sandlin appealed, and we are waiting for the Louisiana Court of Appeal to hear the case. Sandlin subsequently filed his own lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on big cat ownership. ALDF sought to have the case dismissed and is waiting for the trial court to decide if the suit will move forward.

Sandlin has exploited tigers for over 20 years: buying, breeding, selling, and exhibiting tigers in poor conditions for his own profit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Sandlin’s truck stop in the past for unsanitary feeding practices; mishandling tigers; and failure to provide veterinary care, shelter from inclement weather, clean drinking water, and knowledgeable employees to care for the tigers. In 2003, Sandlin’s animal welfare violations sparked public outcry, and three tigers were removed to a Tennessee sanctuary. The USDA allowed Sandlin to keep one tiger: Tony. He has been alone ever since.tony 02

Life at the truck stop is harmful to an animal with such sensitive hearing and acute sense of smell, says veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, who has cared for captive large cats for nearly two decades. After visiting Tony, she declared he is “in poor condition and needs intervention on his behalf.” In addition to exposure to noise and diesel fumes, Tony is taunted by truck stop visitors. His enclosure lacks adequate enrichment. He has no pool of water to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of this stressful confinement, Tony constantly paces in his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions.

His suffering demonstrates the problem of privately-owned tigers, whose numbers exceed that of wild tigers. There are less than 500 Siberian and only 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild. In their natural habitat, tigers live alone, travel many miles to hunt, and avoid humans.

ALDF Sues to Have Tony Freed

In 2010, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. ALDF was joined by several Louisiana residents as co-plaintiffs, including Warren Triche, the state representative who authored the Louisiana state law banning private ownership of tigers. In November 2011, Judge Michael Caldwell ordered LDWF to revoke Sandlin’s permit and prohibited the agency from issuing future permits. Sandlin appealed this decision to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit. We have briefed the case and are awaiting an oral argument date. Once the court hears our arguments, we will await a final decision. Meanwhile, Sandlin continues to exhibit Tony without a permit.

LDWF publicly stated it intends to enforce Louisiana law when litigation has concluded—although they could seize Tony now, at their discretion. State law bars Sandlin from owning and exhibiting a tiger because he did not legally own Tony when Louisiana’s big cat ban went into effect, and because Sandlin does not live on the premises where Tony is held captive. After all, who would want to live in a truck stop? Not Sandlin… and definitely not Tony.

ALDF Intervenes to Defend Big Cat Law

After losing his permit, Sandlin filed his own lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, the LDWF, and Iberville Parish to overturn the state ban on private possession of big cats. This suit flies in the face of national sentiment, public safety, and animal welfare concerns. After the massacre of 48 exotic animals in Ohio in 2011, state and federal bills (like HR 4122) are being considered to prohibit ownership of big cats. Although ALDF was not named as a defendant in Sandlin’s suit, we successfully petitioned the court to allow us to intervene in the case to support Louisiana’s right to safeguard public safety and the welfare of animals like Tony. LDWF and ALDF each filed exceptions to Sandlin’s case, seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed, and a decision is expected soon.

Next Steps: We Wait While Tony Paces

The world waits with bated breath for the results of ALDF’s suit and of Sandlin’s appeal. Meanwhile Tony remains trapped at the truck stop. ALDF’s legal battle for Tony has drawn support from high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten and has galvanized activists around the world. The law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. is providing pro bono assistance.

We are currently waiting for the Louisiana Court of Appeal to hear our case. We are also waiting for the trial court to decide if Sandlin’s suit will move forward. Tony’s fate is tied up in the courts, but ALDF is keeping the pressure on.

We will post updates on Tony’s case as they become available.

NOTE: Article courtesy of  Animal Legal Defense Fund. You can leave a comment of thanks to ALDF and support for Tony at the end of this article here: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2233 on ALDF’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalLegalDefenseFund and retweet on Twitter: https://twitter.com/aldf/status/274297585769013248

Let’s continue our positive dedicated advocacy on behalf of Tony. Thank you.

Congratulations Baker and Donelson   Leave a comment

Congratulations! Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, Receives Pro Bono Award for Efforts in Animal Law from Animal Legal Defense Fund. Attorneys from Baker Donelson are providing pro bono assistance in Tony’s case.

August 28, 2012

(New Orleans, LA/August 28, 2012) Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, has been named the 2011 Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Award winner by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

Over the last two years, Baker Donelson attorneys Monica A. Frois, Laura E. Carlisle, Erin Pelleteri, Brandy N. Sheely and Anne Derbes Wittmann have provided assistance to the ALDF in its efforts to secure the release of a Siberian-Bengal tiger. “Tony the Truck Stop Tiger” has been confined as a roadside exhibit at a Louisiana truck stop for more than ten years. Last year, a permanent injunction was granted against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries preventing it from renewing the truck stop owner’s annual permit when it expired at the end of 2011.  Since that time, the truck stop owner has filed separate litigation in an effort to keep Tony at the truck stop.  Baker Donelson is continuing to assist ALDF in its fight to free Tony.

The case has galvanized the ALDF’s membership, and the Firm’s support, experience and commitment of pro bono hours is helping the ALDF achieve its mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system.

Through its commitment to pro bono representation, Baker Donelson provides legal services to groups and individuals likely to be marginalized in the legal system due to economic barriers. Over the years, the Firm’s attorneys have provided a variety of counsel to many populations, including immigrants, refugees, the elderly and the impoverished. Baker Donelson’s efforts include work on a wide range of matters, such as advocating for the homeless and organizations that serve the homeless, death penalty litigation, providing corporate legal services to non-profit organizations and much more.

Additional information on Baker Donelson’s Pro Bono efforts is available at http://www.bakerdonelson.com/pro-bono.

A national, non-profit organization, the ALDF was founded in 1979 by attorneys in the field of animal law pursuing the enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and humane treatment of animals. For more information, please visit www.aldf.org

http://www.bakerdonelson.com/baker-donelson-receives-pro-bono-award-for-efforts-in-animal-law/

ALDF Back in Court Demanding State Take Action on Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, Now Exhibited Without a Permit   Leave a comment

From The Animal Legal Defense Fund:

April 5th, 2012

After Baton Rouge Court’s Ruling Revoking Invalid Permit, ALDF Files Lawsuit Demanding Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Put an End to Owner’s Illegal Possession of the Big Cat

For immediate release

Contact:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Baton Rouge, La. – This morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit to force the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to do its job of enforcing Louisiana’s big cat ban in the case of Tony, Grosse Tete’s “truck stop tiger.” Michael Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony, an eleven-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, expired in December, yet he has continued to keep Tony confined at the Tiger Truck Stop, in open violation of state law. ALDF’s lawsuit would compel the Department to take steps to enforce the law and report Sandlin’s illegal possession of Tony to local law enforcement for prosecution. In addition, ALDF, along with two Louisiana residents, today filed a petition to intervene in Sandlin’s current lawsuit against the state; the interveners seek to defend the state’s law banning private ownership of big cats. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit and the petition to intervene.

In November 2011, the East Baton Rouge District Court granted ALDF’s request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, ordering the Department to revoke the permit that allowed Sandlin to display Tony as a roadside exhibit at the truck stop where he has languished for over a decade. Despite the fact that Sandlin’s permit expired in December and cannot be renewed, he continues to display Tony, in violation of the big cat law, which the Department is responsible for enforcing.

“The state of Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is required to enforce them” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The court has already granted Tony and ALDF a victory by ruling that Michael Sandlin’s permit to display Tony was illegal. Sandlin, now without a permit, cannot be allowed to continue to exploit this tiger with impunity.”

Meanwhile, Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop are suing the state, arguing that Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats like Tony is unconstitutional—flying in the face of the current national sentiment that dangerous exotic animals should be more strictly regulated. Ohio is currently considering a bill that would ban new ownership of captive wild animals, following the massacre of 48 animals including lions, tigers, and bears, who were released by their Zanesville owner last October. Additionally, in February, a bipartisan bill—the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act”—was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit the breeding and private possession of captive big cats. ALDF’s petition in intervention supports Louisiana’s power to safeguard public safety and animal welfare through such legislative measures.

http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=2023

FTTT Note: Please support Tony’s petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

From ALDF: Spotlight on Tony’s Pro Bono Team: Attorneys Frois, Pelleteri, and Sheely   Leave a comment

The Animal Legal Defense Fund would never be able to use the law to advance the interests of animals without the support of legal professionals nationwide. In this continuing series of spotlights, ALDF’s Animal Law Program salutes attorneys Monica Frois, Erin Pelleteri, and Brandy Sheely.

The laws intended to protect animals in this country are only as strong as the people willing to defend them. Thankfully for a lonely tiger named Tony, there are legal professionals like Monica Frois, Erin Pelleteri, and Brandy Sheely. Attorneys with New Orleans-based Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, this pro bono team has been providing tireless assistance to ALDF on behalf of Tony, an 11-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, who has been on exhibit as a roadside attraction at a Grosse Tete, La., truck stop since 2000.

The truck stop’s owner, Michael Sandlin, has continued to refuse to relinquish Tony, even though the big cat lives in a chain-link enclosure without trees, a large water feature, complex vegetation, or any of the other enrichment that would simulate a natural environment and allow him to perform innate behaviors. Confined to a cage in the parking lot, Tony — who in nature would be roaming at least several square miles of territory — paces the floor, a sign that he is experiencing extreme stress. And because Sandlin sent three other tigers away after the USDA placed a limit on how many he could exhibit, Tony has been living alone since 2003.

In 2011, Monica, Erin, and Brandy, together with ALDF, requested a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the annual permit that allows Sandlin to display Tony. On November 2, a Louisiana district judge granted the injunction, and although there is still more to do, this victory has helped pave the way for a future in which Tony can live in a sanctuary better suited to his needs.

“We’re relieved that Tony will be in an environment that is more humane and far more suitable than a cage at a truck stop,” says Monica. “We knew the law was on our side and are proud that we were able to assist the ALDF in ensuring that Tony’s cause was heard.”

Monica concentrates her practice on health care matters as well as complex litigation, insurance coverage, legal ethics, and professional responsibility litigation. She was appointed by the president of the Louisiana State Bar Association to serve on the Medical/Legal Interprofessional Committee of the Louisiana State Medical Society and Louisiana State Bar Association, a role that combined her experience representing the health care and legal industries. Monica graduated from Tulane University Law School in 1990.

Erin’s litigation experience includes defending insurers in matters related to serious personal injury, medical malpractice property claims, commercial general liability and premises liability. A 2006 graduate of Loyola University School of Law, she has also helped to defend nationwide collective actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and related class actions across the country. Her tort experience includes defending against transportation-related claims in the railroad industry, product liability claims against equipment manufacturers and medical liability claims against a durable medical equipment provider.

Brandy earned her J.D. from Tulane University Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 2004. Like Monica, she concentrates her practice primarily in health care litigation, specifically in representing health care providers in medical malpractice and contract dispute claims. Brandy’s practice also includes business, bankruptcy, and commercial litigation, including the representation of secured creditors in connection with the enforcement and/or protection of their security interests in state, federal, and bankruptcy courts.

We at the Animal Legal Defense Fund are so grateful for the many hours of hard work these attorneys have devoted to assisting us in our legal quest to free Tony.

For more information about Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, please visit www.bakerdonelson.com. You can learn more about Tony’s case here.

To become a member of ALDF’s Animal Law Program and assist animals as part of our pro bono network, please complete and return our Attorney Membership Application.

Article Courtesy of The Animal Legal Defense Fund

Direct Link: http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=1962

Attorneys Fighting to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Head Back to Court for New Trial   1 comment

November 1st, 2011

Court Will Rule on Standing of Tony Supporters to Fight for Him in Court, Will Once Again Decide His Fate

For immediate release

Contact:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Baton Rouge, La. – Tomorrow morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and outraged Louisiana residents return to East Baton Rouge District Court to square off against the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., where Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, has been confined as a roadside exhibit for over a decade. The same court granted ALDF’s original request for a permanent injunction in May 2011, a ruling that would have prevented the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing in December the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop, to keep Tony on display. In August, the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled that Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop must be named as defendants in the lawsuit and ordered a new trial, vacating the trial court’s earlier decision. In addition to this new trial, the Court will consider a motion by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to contest the plaintiffs’ standing to bring the lawsuit to free Tony.

When:

Wednesday, November 2, 9:00 a.m.

Where:
East Baton Rouge District Courthouse
Room 8B (Judge R. Michael Caldwell’s courtroom)
300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge

Since ALDF filed its original lawsuit in April 2011, it has argued that the Department violated state law in granting the permit to Michael Sandlin. In tomorrow’s hearing, the Court will again hear ALDF’s argument that Sandlin’s permit to own and display Tony should be invalidated, and that Tony should be released into the custody of ALDF or an accredited animal sanctuary where he can receive care and treatment and live out his life in a more natural environment, free from the 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes and the taunts of visitors. ALDF is requesting both a permanent injunction, which would mean the state could not renew Sandlin’s permit in December, and a mandatory injunction, which would require that Sandlin’s current permit be revoked. The Court may choose to issue a decision in the case immediately following the hearing.

Tony has been on exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. ALDF’s lawsuit to free Tony has drawn the support of high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and has galvanized activists around the world. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund is confident that the trial court got the law right the first time around and will again make the best decision for Tony,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We would like nothing more than for Tony to spend this New Year’s in the comfort of an accredited sanctuary that is far better equipped to meet his basic needs and to give him the kind of life he deserves.”

http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=1859

ALDF and Baker Donelson Join Forces to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger   Leave a comment

This post from Tony’s good friends Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC who provided pro bono assitance to The Animal Legal Defense Fund on behalf of Tony. Tony’s supporters greatly appreciate the tremendous dedication from both The ALDF and the attorneys of Baker & Donelson in obtaining a victory for Tony.

May 17, 2011 3:36 PM | Posted by Borden, Lisa

Pro bono work is nearly always rewarding (in the truest sense), but the joy of helping someone in need is also often tinged with sadness at the client’s plight. Often we are able to solve one part of the client’s situation, maybe even a major part, but overall life circumstances remain difficult. It’s not often we get to savor the sheer enjoyment of freeing a client from a life of confinement and mistreatment. Even less often is that client a Siberian tiger named Tony . . . .

Tony the Truck Stop Tiger is a ten-year old tiger who has lived virtually his entire life as a roadside attraction at a Louisiana truck stop. Sadly, Tony has been kept in a small bare cage at the side of the road, used to draw tourists to the truck stop. This magnificent animal’s existence has been reduced to pacing back and forth while cars and trucks drive past belching exhaust fumes, and people stand outside his cage to point and stare at him.

Tony’s plight is especially sad when you realize that there are more privately owned tigers in the United States today than are left in the wild throughout the world. Like Tony, many of them are kept as sideshows and photo opportunities, living in mean conditions without companionship, room to roam, or any semblance of a natural environment. While state and federal authorities fortunately have come to realize over the years how inhumane these situations are, it is taking far too long for new laws and regulations to catch up with those owners who are more interested in making a buck.

We first learned about Tony’s captivity from our friends at the Animal Legal Defense Fund. ALDF was founded by a group of lawyers in 1979, and since that time has been fighting every day for humane treatment of animals and strong enforcement of anti-cruelty laws. Over the years, ALDF has come to the rescue of mistreated animals in substandard shelters, endangered species imperiled by environmental threats, animals being tortured in the name of research, and animals being improperly hunted, just to name a few. Lucky for Tony that the ALDF took up his cause, aided by high profile support from Hollywood luminaries like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kristen Bauer.

We admire the ALDF’s dedication to the defense of animals, and were pleased when they asked us to join their fight to free Tony from the truck stop. Together with ALDF, our New Orleans pro bono team of Monica A. Frois, Erin Pelleteri and Brandy N. Sheely requested a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to prevent the Department from renewing the annual permit that allows the owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop to display Tony. On Friday, May 6, 2011, a judge in East Baton Rouge District Court granted the ALDF’s request, paving the way for Tony to be released to a better environment when the current permit expires in December 2011.  ALDF is now exploring possibilities for Tony’s new home in a wildlife sanctuary.

“We’re relieved that Tony will be in an environment that is more humane and far more suitable than a cage at a truck stop,” said Monica Frois. “We knew the law was on our side and are proud that we were able to assist the ALDF in ensuring that Tony’s cause was heard.”

Oh, and we want Leo DiCaprio’s autograph . . . .

http://www.bakerdonelson.com/one_good_turn/blog.aspx?entry=69

Baker Donelson Attorneys Assist ALDF in Securing Freedom for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger   Leave a comment

May 17, 2011

(New Orleans, LA/May 17, 2011) Attorneys with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, provided pro bono assistance to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) in its recently successful effort to secure the release of a Siberian-Bengal tiger that has been confined as a roadside exhibit at a Louisiana truck stop for more than ten years.

Baker Donelson attorneys Monica A. FroisErin Pelleteri and Brandy N Sheely worked with the ALDF’s legal counsel to request a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to prevent the Department from renewing the annual permit that allows the owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop to display Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, as he has come to be known. On Friday, May 6, 2011, a judge in East Baton Rouge District Court granted the ALDF’s request, paving the way for Tony to be released to a new home when the current permit expires in December 2011.

“We’re relieved that Tony will be in an environment that is more humane and far more suitable than a cage at a truck stop,” said Ms. Frois. “We knew the law was on our side and are proud that we were able to assist the ALDF in ensuring that Tony’s cause was heard.”

The ALDF retained Baker Donelson because they wanted a legal team with experience and proven success in the areas of administrative matters and statutory construction.

Through its commitment to pro bono representation, Baker Donelson provides legal services to groups and individuals likely to be marginalized in the legal system due to economic barriers. Over the years, the Firm’s attorneys have provided a variety of counsel to many populations, including immigrants, refugees, the elderly and the impoverished. Baker Donelson’s efforts include work on a wide range of matters, such as advocating for the homeless and organizations that serve the homeless, death penalty litigation, providing corporate legal services to non-profit organizations and much more.

Attorneys in Baker Donelson’s New Orleans office are actively involved in the Homeless Experience Legal Protection (HELP) program, which provides free basic legal representation to the city’s homeless. Baker Donelson’s New Orleans attorneys are also very active in working with Louisiana Appleseed, which seeks to uncover and correct injustices and barriers to opportunity through legal, legislative and market-based structural reform, and in representing individuals seeking legal help through the Pro Bono Project of New Orleans.

Baker Donelson and its attorneys are frequently recognized for their pro bono efforts. In both 2010 and 2011, the Firm has been honored with the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award, which recognizes attorneys and law firms providing outstanding pro bono legal services to Louisiana citizens, including providing an exceptional number of hours dedicated to such services. And in December 2010, Baker Donelson was named the New Orleans Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year by the New Orleans Pro Bono Project, the second consecutive year the law firm received this honor. The Firm’s Louisiana offices have contributed more than 700 hours to the New Orleans Pro Bono Project, and many more hours to other pro bono causes.

Additional information on Baker Donelson’s Pro Bono efforts is available at http://www.bakerdonelson.com/pro-bono/.

A national, non-profit organization, ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit www.aldf.org.

http://www.bakerdonelson.com/baker-donelson-attorneys-assist-aldf-in-securing-freedom-for-tony-the-truck-stop-tiger-05-17-2011/

Note: You can thank  Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BakerDonelson#!/BakerDonelson

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